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Marstel-Day was founded in November, 2002 with a commitment to enhancing the environment, promoting ecological services, and permanently conserving natural resources and habitat.
Article | February 24, 2020
The U.S. reached a monumental 2 million solar installations in 2019. As more people look to save money through solar energy, many different options for doing so are becoming available. The U.S. Department of Energy defines community solar as “a solar-electric system that… provides power and/or financial benefit to… multiple community members.” These voluntary programs allow community residents to enjoy the perks of solar power without the large initial investment. The solar panels and related equipment are set up in a central location, so residents don’t need to buy and install equipment on their personal properties. The power produced by these projects is then shared by a community, and the hardware is either owned by the community itself or by a third party (i.e. Jaton’s community solar projects in California).
The effect that fossil fuels are having on the climate emergency is driving an international push to use low-carbon sources of energy. At the moment, the best options for producing low-carbon energy on a large scale are wind and solar power. But despite improvements over the last few years to both their performance and cost, a significant problem remains: the wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine. A power grid that relies on these fluctuating sources struggles to constantly match supply and demand, and so renewable energy sometimes goes to waste because it’s not produced when needed.
As anyone familiar with the saga of the Spotsylvania solar project knows, an inherent difficulty in developing renewable energy projects comes in finding the right project location, both in terms of size and siting. This is one of the topics analyzed in a new report released by The Brookings Institute: “Renewables, land use, and local opposition in the United States.” It’s a hard fact that renewable generation uses more land than fossil fuel systems, with solar having slightly lower median land use than both on- and offshore-wind, despite a large variance in total land density values. While this presents an issue for renewable developers, the silver lining is that renewable energy can be sustained indefinitely on the same land base, while mines and wells will eventually run out. As a solution, the study recommends greater development on brownfields, as well as floating PV, though the authors do recognize the capped potential of floating PV at around 10% of current U.S. electricity generation.
A cogeneration, or Combined Heat and Power (CHP), plant uses a heat engine or power station to produce electric and thermal energy simultaneously from a single fuel source. A primary benefit of using a cogeneration system is that it can capture thermal energy for heating that is otherwise wasted in a conventional power plant. Utility companies today face the challenge of transitioning to the utilization of renewable energy for both electricity production and district heating systems.
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